21.8.18

Live results for Alaska primary elections

 

The Republican primary will set up one of the fall’s most fascinating governor’s elections.

Alaska could be home to the 2018 midterm election’s most interesting governor’s race, but Tuesday’s primary elections are expected to be little more than a formality.

Democrats and Republicans will pick their candidates for governor, with incumbent independent Gov. Bill Walker waiting in November. Republican state Sen. Mike Dunleavy is the presumed frontrunner for his party, though he’ll have to beat a crowded field. On the other side, Democratic former Sen. Mark Begich doesn’t really have any competition for the gubernatorial nod.

Polls close at 7 pm local time, 11 pm Eastern. Live results are below, powered by Decision Desk.

Alaska governor: Mike Dunleavy and Mark Begich look to lock up noms

Dunleavy, a state senator since 2013, is the only one of the three gubernatorial frontrunners with any primary to speak of. Still, he is expected to emerge from a GOP field that includes former Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and a slew of lesser-known candidates. Dunleavy received the support of former Gov. Sean Parnell in a sign of the state party’s preference.

On the Democratic side, Begich’s nomination is all but a formality. Technically, libertarian William Toien opted to run on the Democratic ballot (thanks to a quirk in Alaska election law) but Begich is already looking ahead to November.

The fall general election is where the real intrigue is, with three credible candidates in Begich, Dunleavy, and sitting governor Walker.

The fear for the Democratic forces in the state is that Walker, who expanded Medicaid and positions himself as a practical centrist, and Begich, who has criticized the current government for cutting into the state’s unique economic welfare program, will split votes and create an opening for Dunleavy to win the governor’s house.

The Begich and Walker camps could cut a deal to avoid that scenario. They have until September 4, when ballots start to get printed, to act. It’s a situation with some precedent in this state whose politics defy easy categorization.

The campaigns have talked, at least preliminarily, about how to avoid a Dunleavy win. The presumed options would be one of Walker or Begich dropping out and endorsing the other — or perhaps some kind of a unity ticket.

It has happened here before: Walker allied with Democrat Byron Mallott for a unity ticket to win his first election in 2014. Begich endorsed Walker then, while Walker did not return the favor. The senator’s strong ground game may have helped carry Walker to victory that year even as he fell short in his own campaign.

source: vox

The Pennsylvania Catholic Church report highlights the cruelty of statute of limitations laws

 

Why many Catholic Church accusers are legally barred from bringing their case to court.

The release of a Pennsylvania grand jury report documenting the sexual abuse of more than 1,000 child victims by hundreds of Catholic priests has revived a long-running debate about statutes of limitations.

These statutes — which create time limits after which criminal prosecutions and civil lawsuits can no longer be initiated — prevent many of the Pennsylvania accusers from bringing their alleged abusers to court. It’s the same type of law that helped make it so hard for Bill Cosby’s accusers to take him to court when allegations of rape resurfaced a few years ago.

Statutes of limitations are common but controversial features of federal and state law. More than 40 states still have statutes of limitations that apply to some or all child sexual abuse crimes, and most states also apply limitations statutes to civil lawsuits.

Proponents of these laws argue that litigating a case based on events from the distant past runs the risk of lost evidence and faulty memories. Critics respond that these concerns can be adequately addressed without drawing arbitrary lines that shut victims out of court.

Pennsylvania law currently allows criminal prosecutions for child sexual abuse until the victim turns 50. Victims themselves can bring civil lawsuits (in which victims ask for compensation rather than for the perpetrator to be put in prison) until they turn 30. Calls for Pennsylvania and other states to reform these statutes have grown louder in the days since the grand jury report.

The Pennsylvania state Senate unanimously passed legislation last year that would eliminate the criminal statute of limitations in child sexual abuse cases altogether as well as raise the age cap for civil claims from 30 to 50.

That measure has so far stalled in the state house, where lawmakers have sought to add a controversial amendment that would allow a two-year “window of opportunity,” starting now, in which any victim of child sexual abuse could bring a civil claim regardless of the victim’s age. Republicans in the state Senate have opposed that amendment.

The Catholic Church revelations should spur Pennsylvania legislators to break this logjam. It should also prompt lawmakers across the country to take a closer look at the rationale for their limitations statutes more broadly.

When they do, they should recognize that the justifications for these statutes are shaky, especially as applied to serious offenses such as sexual abuse. Time bars on civil claims rest on more solid ground, but there too, the arguments for reform — if not repeal — are strong.

The uneasy case for criminal statutes of limitations

Criminal statutes of limitations are widespread but far from universal. Some other common law countries, including England and Australia, have no criminal statutes of limitations. No US state imposes a statute of limitations for murder, and South Carolina and Wyoming have no statute of limitations for any criminal prosecution. Elsewhere, they vary dramatically from offense to offense and from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Probably the most common justification for criminal statutes of limitations is evidentiary. As time passes, memories fade, alibi witnesses die or move away, and potentially exculpatory evidence is lost. Thus, the passage of time raises the risk of convicting the innocent.

Critics of limitations statutes acknowledge these evidentiary concerns but argue that categorical time bars are an inadequate response. Why should we allow criminal prosecutions of child sexual abuse when the victim is 49 — as Pennsylvania now does — but close the window abruptly when the victim turns 50?

To be sure, any bright-line rule leads to arbitrary outcomes at the margins. But here, the law should be able to do much better. For example, when a defendant stands accused of a long-ago crime, the judge in the case could instruct jurors that they may consider prosecutorial delay as a factor in deciding whether a person is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Delay in prosecution might be one reason for doubt, but it might not be reason enough to acquit if other evidence of guilt is overwhelming.

A second justification for criminal statutes of limitations is that as time passes, people change. Individuals who committed heinous crimes 50 years ago might have reformed themselves in the intervening half-century. If they have been law-abiding citizens in the decades since, they are probably no danger to society today. Why lock them up now?

Critics of limitations statutes have an answer to this too. A defendant’s self-reformation between the crime and the prosecution may be a factor that a judge should take into account when setting a sentence, but time does not expiate all sins.

Consider, for example, the priest who allegedly forced a 9-year-old boy to perform oral sex on him in the early 1980s and then washed the boy’s mouth out with holy water. The priest — now 73 years old and living in Boca Raton, Florida — does not appear to have apologized or endured any consequences in the years since. Trying and potentially punishing the priest today would send a strong signal to future abusers and their abettors that they will not enjoy impunity if they prey on society’s most vulnerable.

State lawmakers have broad leeway to lengthen limitations periods, but their power is not absolute. In a 2003 case, the Supreme Court held that the Constitution prevents any state from reviving a criminal prosecution that is already time-barred. Thus, if Pennsylvania successfully eliminates its statute of limitations for child sexual abuse crimes today, the state could not bring charges against a defendant whose victim is now 51, because the limitations period for that charge has already run out.

Change is more likely to happen for civil, not criminal, suits

If childhood victims now older than 50 ever have their day in court, it will likely be in the civil context because the constitutional prohibition on reviving time-barred prosecutions does not apply to civil suits.

The debate over civil statutes of limitations is similar, but not identical, to the dispute over criminal time bars. In civil cases, the penalty is typically monetary, and so the concern about sending an innocent person to prison does not apply.

That might make the case for making civil statutes of limitations weaker than in the criminal context. On the other hand, in civil cases it’s the victim and not a prosecutor who controls when claims are filed, and so arguably it’s the victims who are at fault if they fail to bring the case quickly.

One of the key takeaways from the church sex abuse scandals and the #MeToo movement is that the social and emotional pressure for victims of sexual misconduct to stay silent about their experiences can begin to lift once other victims raise their voices. Age-based thresholds like those in Pennsylvania ignore that powerful lesson. Becoming the first person to publicly accuse a particular defendant of sexual abuse, assault, or harassment requires enormous courage for middle-age adults as well as younger victims.

One possible approach is to follow the grand jury’s suggestion for an additional two-year window on civil claims but to start the clock once the defendant has been publicly accused of sexual misconduct by another person.

Pennsylvania could apply this two-year rule not only in cases of child sexual abuse but also to civil claims of sexual misconduct involving adult victims. While the grand jury’s proposal for a new two-year window would be a one-time fix, this alternative approach could apply going forward to all civil claims involving sexual misconduct.

A more radical approach would be to eliminate the civil statute of limitations altogether in cases of child sexual abuse — and perhaps for claims of serious sexual misconduct involving adult victims as well.

For some, such a proposal may raise concerns about potential plaintiffs sitting on their claims for years and then springing lawsuits on defendants once exculpatory evidence has deteriorated or been discarded.

A possible compromise would be to reduce the amount that victims can recover if they are slow to bring their claims, but not to bar them from recovering anything. In that case, plaintiffs still would have an incentive to file their actions sooner, but victims who struggle to overcome the social and psychological barriers to speaking out would not lose their day in court.

While the sexual abuse revelations in last week’s grand jury report highlight some of the major flaws with existing statutes of limitations, these flaws extend beyond the present case. The report should prompt lawmakers, lawyers, and lay people to reflect on the statutes that stand in the way of victims seeking justice.

These statutes do serve evidentiary and diligence-promoting functions, but those functions could likely be fulfilled through alternative means. Reforms that are specific to child sexual abuse are sensible first steps, but they should not be the end of the road.

Daniel Hemel, a frequent Vox contributor, is an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School.


First Person is Vox’s home for compelling, provocative narrative essays. Do you have a story to share? Read our submission guidelines, and pitch us at firstperson@vox.com.

source: vox

Susan Collins is expected to ask Kavanaugh about his stance on Roe v. Wade

 

She’s a pivotal Republican vote.

Maine Sen. Susan Collins — one of the two moderate Republicans who’s viewed as a key swing vote in the Supreme Court fight — has her meeting with nominee Brett Kavanaugh Tuesday, and she’s planning to ask about his stance on Roe v. Wade.

Collins, along with Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, is seen as a pivotal Republican vote that Kavanaugh will need in order to advance his confirmation. Because of the GOP’s slim 51-49 majority in the upper chamber, if even one Republican senator were to withdraw his or her backing, Kavanaugh’s nomination could theoretically be in jeopardy.

Collins has previously said that she would not back any Supreme Court nominee who’s hostile toward Roe v. Wade — although she’s also expressed skepticism that justices like Neil Gorsuch and John Roberts would actually vote to overturn the precedent set by the abortion case.

Democrats have sought to use the preservation of abortion rights as one of the rallying cries aimed at uniting their caucus and winning over Collins and Murkowski, both of whom have spoken up in support of the landmark 1973 decision.

Collins on Monday told Bloomberg’s Steven Dennis that she specifically plans to press Kavanaugh about his praise of former Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s dissent, which called for leaving abortion rights up to the states, in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute last fall. “I’m going to talk to him about that,” Collins said.

During his confirmation hearing for the DC Circuit in 2006, Kavanaugh said he would respect precedent on Roe, but declined to offer his personal views on the subject. Democratic leaders have argued that his vetting by the Federalist Society — a conservative organization led by a well-known anti-abortion advocate — should be reason enough for concern.

“I have not seen anything that is disqualifying, but I have seen a number of issues that raise questions that I need to explore with him and that’s what I’ll do tomorrow,” Collins added regarding her review of Kavanaugh’s extensive paper trail. Murkowski has indicated that Kavanaugh’s position on Roe will also be a consideration as she weighs his nomination. Both senators’ initial reactions to Kavanaugh’s nomination didn’t seem to suggest an inclination toward blocking him.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is due to meet with Kavanaugh later today as well. He’ll likely push the nominee on both abortion and health care — the other main issue Democrats have stressed in their efforts to block him.

source: vox

Trump is treating security clearances like reality TV

 
Donald Trump poses on the red carpet for a <em>Celebrity Apprentice </em>event in New York City in February 2015.

Philip Mudd, James Clapper, and James Comey are on the chopping block, and we’re all along for the ride.

President Donald Trump is turning security clearances — and whether current and former officials get to keep them — into a reality show-style game.

Former CIA Director John Brennan was the first figure to get the ax, and the White House has put out a list of multiple other individuals who are potentially on the chopping block.

Trump is now publicly toying with going after other clearances, on Monday asking his followers on Twitter whether he should go after former CIA and FBI official Philip Mudd, who in a CNN debate criticized Trump for targeting security clearances and became angered when another commentator suggested he and others profit from their clearances. And the president seemed to dangle the matter in front of former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Tuesday, suggesting the retired Air Force lieutenant general is being “nice” to him so he doesn’t lose his security clearance next.

The setup isn’t all that different from a reality television scenario you could see in Big Brother, Survivor, or The Apprentice. There’s a list of potential nominees who could be ousted, and they’ve got to play the game to keep the other participants — or, in this case, Trump — from kicking them out. And we’re all watching to see who’s next.

Since Trump revoked Brennan’s clearance last week — an extraordinary move seen largely as retaliation for the former CIA director’s public criticism of him — Trump has made no secret of his desire to do more. The White House put out a list of other top intelligence and law enforcement officials whose security clearances Trump was considering revoking, including former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, and former National Security Adviser Susan Rice. Also on the list: current Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, whom Trump has been attacking on Twitter for days.

The Washington Post reported over the weekend that the administration had already drafted more security clearance revocations, and the communications team had suggested rolling them out to change the narrative during unfavorable news cycles. According to the Post, presidential aides worried that Trump’s list would “smack of a Nixonian enemies list.” But Trump doesn’t seem to be bothered by it.

Last Wednesday, the day he stripped Brennan’s clearance, Trump appeared to quote Fox News host Sean Hannity in a tweet saying he’d “strip the whole bunch of them.”

Security officials and experts are worried about what Trump is doing. He seems to see it as a game.

Dozens of former national security officials have come out in opposition to Trump’s maneuvers and warned of potentially damaging consequences for US national security.

More than a dozen former senior intelligence officials under both Republican and Democratic administrations signed a letter supporting Brennan and called the White House’s decision to revoke his clearance “inappropriate” and “deeply regrettable.” Separately, 60 former CIA officials warned Trump that “the country will be weakened if there is a political litmus test applied before seasoned experts are allowed to share their views,” and on Monday, another 170 former officials signed a letter supporting Brennan.

Leon Panetta, a former CIA director and defense secretary, said in an interview with Margaret Brennan on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday that the president was using security clearances as a “political tool” to go after people he doesn’t agree with. “That undermines the importance of security clearances, particularly when it comes to national security,” he said.

The president is not picking up what the national security community is putting down. Instead, he’s continued to relish the fight over clearances and his actions.

In a tweet on Monday, he suggested that the outcry over Brennan and others is not due to national security reasons but instead because security clearances are a hot ticket. “Everybody wants to keep their Security Clearance, it’s worth great prestige and big dollars, even board seats,” he wrote.

He also said he would welcome a lawsuit Brennan has threatened to file in response to losing his security clearance, seeming excited at the idea of a reality show-like fight where a former contestant tries to get back in.

On Monday evening, Trump reacted to a segment featuring a heated debate between Mudd, the former CIA and FBI official, and pro-Trump commentator Paris Dennard over Trump revoking security clearances. The clip first aired on Friday night, but Trump appears to have just caught it on Monday when Hannity aired it on Fox.

Trump characterized Mudd as “totally unglued and weird” and asked his some 54 million Twitter followers whether they thought he should revoke his clearance. He tagged in Hannity too.

And on Tuesday morning, Trump suggested that Clapper — who’s on his list for potential clearance revocations — is “being nice to me” so the president doesn’t take action. He also batted down a New Yorker report that he considered restricting former President Barack Obama’s intelligence briefings.

This isn’t the first time Trump’s reality television roots have been evidenced in his presidency. The way he’s treated his Supreme Court picks — putting out lists, whittling down the finalists, and announcing his decisions during primetime hours — has an Apprentice-like air to it as well. If national security experts are right and the president’s game right now is indeed one, the stakes are much higher than in the Trump Tower boardroom when Trump was deciding whether to fire Omarosa.

source: vox

Bruce Ohr, the DOJ official Trump is attacking on Twitter, explained

 
President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions attend the 37th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service May 15, 2018.

Why Ohr and his wife, Nellie, are at the center of a media firestorm.

President Trump has found a new favorite Twitter target. His name is Bruce Ohr, he works in the criminal division of the Justice Department, and though you may never have heard his name, the president has tweeted about him nine times since August 11.

Before Trump started tweeting, Ohr, a former associate deputy attorney general (until December 2017), was largely anonymous to the general public. But within some conservative circles, his purported involvement in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign and possible Russian interference in the 2016 election has been the stuff of a great deal of theorizing over the past few months.

That theorizing has now reached Trump himself:

Now Ohr might lose his security clearance. He is facing a congressional hearing into what he knew about Christopher Steele and the dossier Steele helped to create. And Trump is repeatedly focusing attention on an employee within his own administration.

So who exactly is Bruce Ohr, and why are he and his wife, Nellie, at the center of a firestorm that began in conservative media and has exploded onto the president’s Twitter feed?

On the right, the story hinges on “lowlife” Christopher Steele

Bruce Ohr is a longtime Department of Justice employee. Until December 2017, in fact, he had two jobs within the DOJ: associate deputy attorney general, serving under Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein; and director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF).

But in December, he was demoted from associate deputy attorney general. The Justice Department didn’t detail the reasoning for the demotion, telling Fox News, “It is unusual for anyone to wear two hats as he has done recently,” but observers on the right assumed the real reason had to do with Ohr’s purported connections to the Steele dossier.

The Steele dossier is a document that alleged Trump was under the influence of Russian intelligence services, who had also compiled blackmail material on him. Steele was working for a company called Fusion GPS, founded by a former Wall Street Journal journalist named Glenn Simpson. And though the FBI began to examine ties between Trump and Russia after George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign aide, told an Australian diplomat that Russia had damaging information on Hillary Clinton, many on the right believe the dossier was responsible for the launch of the Russia investigation.

Ohr met and emailed multiple times with Steele, who had been on the FBI payroll in the past as a source. According to emails revealed by the Hill earlier this month, contact between Ohr and Steele went on for more than a decade, from 2002 to 2017 — including after the FBI suspended its relationship with Steele because he shared information with the media.

Also, Bruce Ohr’s wife Nellie Ohr, a Russian history expert, worked as a contractor for Fusion GPS on Russia-related matters in mid-2016 — a fact that Bruce Ohr didn’t share on federal disclosure forms.

Most of this has been public knowledge since late last year, after Simpson, the Fusion GPS founder, testified in front of the House Intelligence Committee in November 2017 about the creation of the Steele dossier and how much involvement Simpson and Fusion GPS had in the FBI’s investigation of the Trump presidential campaign’s potential Russia ties.

In his testimony, Simpson said he met with Ohr after the election to provide information about how the dossier was made. However, as the Weekly Standard’s Eric Felten pointed out, his testimony took place before news broke about Nellie Ohr’s work with Fusion GPS, and Simpson didn’t mention the connection.

Ohr was also mentioned in Rep. Devin Nunes’s heavily hyped memo, which alleged that the FBI abused its power in surveilling Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016. The memo details how Steele told Ohr that he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.”

Among many on the right, the implication is clear: Ohr’s involvement, whether via his meetings with Steele or through his wife’s work for Fusion GPS, casts aspersions on the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation, and taints the investigation itself.

But according to Rosenstein, Ohr has never worked on the Mueller investigation or the 2016 surveillance of Carter Page, the Trump foreign policy adviser. Even the Nunes memo doesn’t imply that Ohr knew anything about surveillance applications or any of the other fine-grain pieces of the investigation itself.

As my colleague Andrew Prokop wrote in February:

The memo reveals that Steele was in contact with Ohr and that in September 2016, Steele shared some of his negative opinions on Trump. ... Yet note what the memo does not claim: that Ohr had anything to do with the surveillance application on Carter Page. Yes, it tries to imply that, by saying Ohr “worked closely with Deputy Attorneys General Yates and later Rosenstein,” who were previously mentioned as approving the wiretap. ... But Yates and then Rosenstein were top justice officials overseeing basically everything in the department. Ohr was a subordinate of theirs, but his actual job was as the “Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces Director.” If he was involved in the Page wiretap specifically, Nunes sure doesn’t provide the evidence to show that.

To Trump, it’s all about “the unequal application of the law”

The reason, then, that the Ohr story has persisted in conservative media and finally made its way to Trump’s attention isn’t because conservatives know anything definitive about Ohr — what he did or didn’t know about the Russia investigation or Fusion GPS, or what he knew about his wife’s work with the firm.

It’s because of optics. Ohr has helped back up a conservative case that the Russia investigation as a whole is an example of the unequal application of the rule of law. As Kimberley Strassel at the Wall Street Journal wrote on August 16, the Ohr case “smells of ... impropriety.” It feeds a narrative on the right that the Mueller investigation is ignoring actions performed by the Clinton campaign or the Obama administration that, they argue, might be just as bad, or worse.

By not disclosing his wife’s job in federal disclosure forms and continuing to meet with Steele even after the FBI stopped working with him, Ohr has, in effect, made the DOJ and the Mueller probe look bad, said Victor Davis Hanson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a contributor to National Review who has written extensively on Ohr.

“Ohr has done nothing to clear up the impression that while initially the fourth-ranking official in the Trump DOJ, he was communicating with an apparently discredited FBI informant to traffic in or add to the contents of the dossier well after the campaign,” Hanson said. “The lack of transparency on the part of a DOJ official in areas outside his normal purview is disturbing.”

Hanson argued that Ohr’s lack of professional involvement with the Russia investigation makes the situation worse, not better: “He was meeting with a disgraced FBI informant on matters that did not seem to have anything to do with his assigned tasks at DOJ,” he said.

Now Ohr’s security clearance — and his job — hangs in the balance

After being demoted from deputy assistant attorney general, Ohr was demoted again in January, losing his title of head of the OCDETF.

And he’s stayed quiet — he hasn’t commented on Trump’s tweets, or the constant barrage of criticism from the White House, including being among the officials mentioned by press secretary Sarah Sanders as at risk of losing their security clearances.

But others haven’t. As the administration has threatened former government employees with having their clearances revoked (and already has revoked the clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan), retired military and intelligence officials have widely criticized the revocations, which they view as being politically motivated.

For Ohr, who is a current DOJ employee, losing his clearance wouldn’t just be detrimental to his reputation but (even though he does have some job protections as a civil servant) would most likely result in the loss of his job entirely — raising the stakes of Trump’s tweets.

And it’s worth mentioning that much of the criticism Trump has aimed at Ohr has really been intended for Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice overall, stemming from Trump’s continue ire that Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation and a belief that the DOJ — the one manned by Trump’s own appointees — is being deeply unfair to him and should be focused on “Crooked Hillary.” As he tweeted on August 14, “If we had a real Attorney General, this Witch Hunt” — meaning the Mueller investigation — “would never have been started!”

source: vox

Eid el-Kabir: Etsu Nupe Urges Community Leaders to Mobilise Subjects to get PVCs

 

The Etsu  Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, has urged district heads and stakeholders to mobilise their subjects to get their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Abubakar made the call in his Eid el-Kabir Sallah message to the people of Bida at the Eid praying ground on Tuesday in Bida.

The Etsu Nupe, who is also Chairman, Niger State Council of Chiefs, said the PVC was the only power the electorate had to vote for candidates of their choice.

“The PVC is a very potent weapon to either vote in or vote out any candidate seeking to occupy any elective office.

“Without it, one would not be able to exercise the due constitutional responsibility of casting vote in the nation’s electoral process’’, he said.

The monarch urged those who had not registered to take advantage of the extension to go and register before the Aug. 31 deadline.

The Etsu also advised his subjects to be law abiding, respect constituted authorities and live in peace, irrespective of ethnic, religious and political affiliations.

He urged the people and other Nigerians to pray and support government at all levels.

Abubakar appealed to Nigerians to shun all acts capable of breaching peace and unity, adding that such acts would setback the progress of the country.
“Peace is the veritable tool for national development and without it, no nation can achieve progress.

“We should therefore as patriotic citizens continue to uphold the noble virtues of peace, unity and love for one another, irrespective of religion, ethnic or political affiliations’’, he said.

(NAN)

(NTA)

Catholic Church Preaches Love Tolerance to Muslims at Sallah

 

In the spirit of Sallah, the Director of Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Msgr. Gabriel Osu has urged Muslims to love and tolerate other Nigerians irrespective of their religious persuasion or faith.

“The golden rule is to love your God above every other thing. Love your neighbour as yourself and your neighbour goes beyond Muslims or Christians but Nigerians.

“Today is for merrymaking but we should do it in moderation and for those that are performing Hajj, they should pray for Nigeria,” he told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishop of Oyo Diocese, the Most Rev. Emmanuel Badejo, has appealed to Nigerians irrespective of tribal, religious and ethnic backgrounds to promote the culture of religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence.

Badejo said this in an Eid-el-Kabir message signed by the Director of Inter-religious Dialogue, Rev Fr. Joseph Ogundipe and emailed to NAN.

He said there can never be any meaningful and tangible progress without peace and harmony.

“I congratulate you all (Muslims)  for this great opportunity and I urged you all to see this unique festival of sacrifice as a medium of giving the greatest sacrifice of love to one another.

“Our country needs all of us and we all have a part to play in the success of Nigeria as a nation.

“May I also urge us to use this medium to reflect on the politics of our nation and prove wrong those who use religion as means of dividing us,” Badejo said.

The cleric also urged Nigerians to rise against all forms of prejudices and religious fanaticism and vote for people who will do the right things and make our nation better.

“The forthcoming general elections present another opportunity for us to cooperate at all levels — federal, state and local — to vote for God fearing and credible candidates that will make our nation grow.

“Let us remember that we owe God and the coming generations a duty,” he added.

Badejo said Muslims and Christians should continue to demonstrate their obedience to God always through the spirit of forgiveness and true love for one another.

(NTA)

The primary elections for the open Wyoming governor’s seat, briefly explained

 

Three Republicans look like the top contenders to win the open governor’s seat.

Wyoming’s next governor will almost assuredly be picked in Tuesday’s Republican primary election, capping off one of the state’s most expensive campaigns ever.

Half a dozen Republicans are running to replace outgoing Gov. Matt Mead, one of the most popular governors in the country. Given Wyoming’s blood-red hue — this state voted for Donald Trump by nearly 50 freaking points — whoever emerges from the GOP primary is the next governor-in-waiting, barring some shocking twist in the next few months.

GOP megadonor Foster Friess headlines the Republican field. His closest contenders appear to be State Treasurer Mark Gordon, business executive Sam Galeotos, and attorney Harriet Hageman, the only woman on the GOP ballot.

Polls close at 7 pm local time, 9 pm Eastern. Live results are below, powered by Decision Desk.

Wyoming governor: the race to replace Matt Mead

Friess, who got very rich running a mutual fund in the 1990s, has already put more than $2 million of his own money into his gubernatorial campaign. He’s trying to cross the line from being a major Republican donor — he regularly gives millions of dollars to GOP candidates in election years — to a Republican politician. He has notably gotten the support of Donald Trump Jr.

But several other candidates have raised $1 million or more; state observers say this could end up being Wyoming’s most expensive election ever. And Friess doesn’t seem to have pulled away from the field based on the polling we’ve seen.

A poll this month from the Trafalgar Group found Friess leading the GOP primary at 21 percent, but Gordon was right behind him at 20 percent. Hageman received 16 percent, Galeotos was just shy of 10 percent, and 20 percent of voters were still undecided.

In such a wide-open field, anything could happen on primary day. But Friess has spent a lot of money to buy his ticket to the governor’s mansion.

Democrats have to run their primary, too, of course, even if none of the prominent election forecasters give them even a snowball’s chance of winning the November election.

We don’t have any polling, but Mary Throne is a former Democratic leader in the state legislature who has the support of some of the top Democrats in the state and has raised the most money — if there is a frontrunner, she’s probably it.

Her competitors don’t have quite the same profile: Ken Casner ran and lost a campaign for the state legislature in 2016. Rex Wilde had a failed Senate bid in 2014, and Michael Allen Green rounds out the field.

source: vox

The Mueller investigation is showing how badly we’ve failed to prosecute white-collar crime

 
Michael Cohen on July 27, 2018, in New York City.

It shouldn’t take a special counsel to catch these guys.

The thought that must keep Michael Cohen up at night as he contemplates the possibility of facing federal charges for $20 million in bank fraud is the knowledge that it’s almost inconceivable he would be facing prosecution if not for the fact that his former boss got himself elected president of the United States.

The same is true, of course, of Paul Manafort, another former employee of Trump’s. Indeed, Manafort’s attorneys made the argument in court — and the judge seemed somewhat sympathetic — that in effect, the whole prosecution was illegitimate because everyone knew special counsel Robert Mueller was only bringing the case because he was hoping to turn Manafort into a cooperating witness.

Perhaps for that reason, Mueller’s team has had nothing to do with the Cohen prosecution, simply turning over evidence it uncovered to the US attorney’s office in New York and letting them handle it. Still, the fact remains that the initial inquiry only came to light because of Cohen’s association with Trump.

All of which is to say that while the first-order political upshot of the Cohen and Manafort cases is that Trump seems to associate with an awful lot of criminals, the more disturbing implication is that there are a lot of white-collar criminals out there who aren’t being prosecuted because their lives don’t happen to intersect with a special counsel investigation.

Indeed, Trump himself in his pre-political life seems to have repeatedly benefited from a broad disinclination on the part of the federal government to devote serious efforts to cracking down on white-collar crime. And while a certain laxness about the crimes of the rich has long been a characteristic of the American criminal justice system, it’s gotten substantially worse in recent decades, as misguided Supreme Court decisions have made prosecutions harder even as law enforcement resources have been diverted by terrorism and anti-immigrant hysteria and political will to challenge plutocracy has waned.

Ten years ago, it seemed remarkable that America had gotten so soft on corporate crime that nobody was prosecuted for the banking malfeasance that crashed the world economy in 2008. Today we have a White House awash in scandal and criminal associations. We can only hope that if Trump’s rule comes to an end, we won’t get complacent about the dirt that Mueller has only begun to scratch.

Donald Trump, career criminal

Trump himself got his start as a junior partner in his father’s real estate business, operating in the outer boroughs of New York City.

And he got his start as a celebrity with a New York Times article detailing federal housing discrimination charges brought against him and his father. The charges were, ultimately, settled without admission of fault — something that would be a pattern for Trump over the years.

That his first foray into the real estate business involved criminal acts didn’t stop him from continuing in that business. When he later branched out into casinos, he got caught accepting an illegal loan from his father to stay afloat and got off with a slap on the wrist and was allowed to continue in that business as well.

From his empty-box tax scam to money laundering at his casinos to racial discrimination in his apartments to Federal Trade Commission violations for his stock purchases to Securities and Exchange Commission violations for his financial reporting, Trump has spent his entire career breaking various laws, getting caught, and then essentially plowing ahead unharmed. When he was caught engaging in illegal racial discrimination to please a mob boss, he paid a fine. There was no sense that this was a repeated pattern of violating racial discrimination law, and certainly no desire to take a closer look at his various personal and professional connections to the Mafia.

Even as late as the post-election transition period, Trump was allowed to settle a lawsuit about defrauding customers of his fake university (interestingly, the fact that the university was fake was not, itself, actionable fraud at all) rather than truly face the music.

One of Trump’s real insights in life was to see this bug in the system. When it comes to these kinds of crimes, it’s typically in government officials’ interest to agree to a settlement that gives them positive headlines and raises some cash while letting them move on to the next investigation. But while these decisions can make sense individually, they let serial offenders repeat their crimes over and over again. Meanwhile, throughout the decades of Trump’s rise, the legal climate has only gotten more permissive.

White-collar crime in the 21st century

The 21st century actually opened on what appeared to be a trajectory of getting more zealous about white-collar crime, as even the business-friendly administration of George W. Bush outlined an aggressive enforcement agenda in the wake of accounting scandals at Enron and Worldcom. The final result, however, was essentially the opposite of that.

One big factor was 9/11, which wound up injecting a new sense of urgency and — crucially — prestige to the FBI’s counterterrorism mission. Complicated white-collar cases are hard to make, and those who try to make them may end up making powerful enemies along the way. Counterbalancing that could be the prestige and public acclaim that come with making a major case. But terrorism ended up soaking up both concrete resources and prestige away from other missions that the FBI and federal prosecutors could pursue.

Then the Enron prosecutions themselves soured, as the Supreme Court overturned some charges against Jeffrey Skilling (in what became the launch past for a whole line of questionable jurisprudence that’s ended up de facto legalizing bribery) and threw out the case against the accounting firm Arthur Andersen. The Andersen case was doubly sour since the criminal prosecution wound up in effect destroying the firm, even though the government lost the case in the end.

The upshot, as Jesse Eisinger details in his excellent recent book The Chickenshit Club, is that by the time Barack Obama took office in the wake of the financial crisis, the Justice Department had no real stomach for taking on these cases. Meanwhile, the White House and Obama economic teams had no particular desire for them to develop one since their strategy was to patch up the banking system as quickly as possible rather than seek what former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner dismissed as “Old Testament justice.”

Obama administration officials dislike the implication that they were soft on corporate crime and mount various arguments in their own defense. But one thing is incontrovertible: Unlike the Bush administration and the accounting scandals, the Obama-era Justice Department didn’t have any high-profile losses where they brought bank executives to court and were brushed back by business-friendly judges. It simply wasn’t an area in which they were interested in pushing the envelope. But the deeper story of Cohen and Manafort is the extent to which, away from hot-button political topics, the resources are simply not available to rigorously investigate all the white-collar crime that’s out there.

White-collar cases are hard, and we’re barely trying

Successfully prosecuting complicated white-collar cases is difficult, both because the cases themselves can get rather involved and because the defendants tend to have considerably more resources to devote to their own legal team than is the case with violent crimes. Meanwhile, you often don’t have the equivalent of the dead body that launches a homicide investigation — incontrovertible proof that someone committed a crime and now you need to find out who it was.

The Cohen case, for example, seems to be coming together fairly quickly now that it’s underway. But for it to get underway, someone had to decide to take a good hard look at it, which ordinarily wouldn’t happen.

Congress, meanwhile, in its wisdom has elected to spend more than twice as much money on the two federal law enforcement agencies charged with stopping illegal immigrants, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection, as they spend on the FBI. But the FBI’s mission includes counterterrorism and counterintelligence, organized crime, and a range of other responsibilities.

Obviously it is well understood that despite their fairly lavish budgets, ICE and CBP have not, in practice, succeeded in creating a situation where all unauthorized immigrants are caught, detained, and removed. That state of affairs is frequently portrayed as a kind of urgent national crisis requiring even harsher crackdowns, even more money, and all the rest.

Under the circumstances, it’s naturally the case that given the drastically smaller pool of resources dedicated to white-collar crime — especially in light of the greater complexity of the cases — a lot of crooks end up slipping through the cracks. Elevated interest in the criminality of Trump and his inner circle is, to an extent, changing that. But if the Trump era ever comes to an end, America should consider taking a hard look at a more systemic change. After all, the very fact that we’ve found ourselves in this situation is a reminder that the Trump crew is but one symptom of a much larger illness.

source: vox

Watch: Logic’s emotional performance protesting family separation

 

20.8.18

Tesla fans have found a new person to blame for Elon Musk’s troubles: his girlfriend

 
Tesla’s Elon Musk and the musician Grimes at the Met Gala in New York City on May 7, 2018.

Grimes is the latest in a long line of women to be blamed for their husbands’ or boyfriends’ professional struggles.

Elon Musk’s latest troubles at Tesla — his surprise privatization announcement, potential regulatory probes, the stock’s subsequent price decline — have been well documented in recent days.

And now, some Tesla observers appear to be moving on to the next chapter of the narrative: blaming the turmoil on his girlfriend, the musician Grimes, the woman who’s supposedly been distracting Musk from his mission. This has led to coverage of Musk apparently unfollowing Grimes on social media (really) because — as the theory goes — if they break up, things will get better.

It really has been a rough month for Tesla: Tesla’s stock neared a three-month low on Monday morning as the fallout from Musk’s August 7 tweet announcing he was considering taking Tesla private continued. JPMorgan Chase analysts cut their price target on the stock to $195 from $308, a dramatic reduction, and reports emerged that the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund, considered the top candidate to help take Tesla private, might not be so interested after all.

But financial news website Street Insider found a possible silver lining in the ongoing Musk-Tesla drama: The South African-born entrepreneur is no longer following his girlfriend, 30-year-old Canadian musician Grimes, on Instagram and Twitter, so maybe they broke up.

“This, bulls say, could allow Musk to get back on track mentally,” the site asserted.

This is part of a literally centuries-old trend of women being blamed for the performance issues of their husbands, boyfriends, and men in general.

Has Musk’s relationship with Grimes, like the romantic lives of many public figures, been in the headlines? Yes, including a bizarre story involving rapper Azealia Banks. Is Grimes, whose real name is Claire Boucher, the reason for Tesla’s troubles? Of course not.

If you follow that logic, the problem isn’t that Tesla’s declining cash pile (it has $2.2 billion as of June 30), or reports that the SEC is looking into the substance behind Musk’s Tesla tweets and was already probing whether Tesla misled investors about production issues, or Musk’s increasingly erratic behavior online. It’s that Musk who still manages to be considered a wunderkind at 47 has been distracted by a lady.

Amber Heard was supposedly good for Tesla because she’s … hot?

It’s not clear which Tesla-supporting “bulls” Street Insider is referring to, but you don’t have to look far to find other examples of suggestions that how Musk performs at work is tied to the women in his life.

In 2017, when Musk was dating actress Amber Heard, Katerina Ang at blog Moneyish wrote that Musk’s relationship was “probably good for Tesla.”

Executive coach Debra Benton told Ang it fit a scenario in which the “self-described geeks” get the “prom queen” they couldn’t date in high school. “He gets a prize and looks like a winner,” she said. “Therefore, the public thinks that his company is a winner, too.”

Heard could have been a distraction, the article went on to say, but Musk apparently exerted enough control over the situation to resist her witchy charms: Because Musk revealed the relationship on his own instead of waiting for celebrity gossip media to catch them, “he’s taking the wind out of the sails of concerns his executive team or board of directors might have been about him being distracted,” Benton said.

But the distraction narrative quickly reared up again when the relationship ended. After Heard and Musk broke up in 2017 (they briefly reconciled and separated again this year), People magazine reported that Musk had ended the relationship because of their busy schedules — principally, his. “Elon is working day and night,” a source told the publication. “This is his life and he loves it. He is in no position to be in a relationship right now and ended it.”

Months after the split in November 2017, Musk spoke to Rolling Stone about the “severe emotional pain” he felt in the aftermath that made his attendance of a Tesla Model 3 launch event almost unbearable. “It took every ounce of will to be able to do the Model 3 event and not look like the most depressed guy around,” Musk told the publication. “For most of the day, I was morbid.”

News stories at the time of their separation described Heard as “devastated,” “manipulative,” and “selfish.” After the breakup, one online commenter on the website Quora mused that “it’s best if these women don’t distract him.”

And when Musk and Grimes appeared together at the Met Gala this year, commentators on investment commentary website Seeking Alpha wrote about the implications of the relationship for Tesla and suggested Musk’s night out with the woman he was dating was taking away from his focus on the Tesla Model 3.

Some investors and Tesla observers seem to believe that Musk is somehow powerless against these women, and that they may be detrimental to the fortunes of Tesla and his success. (Grimes has actually defended Musk and Tesla’s practices on multiple occasions.)

Musk, meanwhile, doesn’t appear to think that his romantic life as a distraction — in fact, quite the opposite. In the November 2017 Rolling Stone interview, Musk, who has been married three times, twice to the same person, said he “cannot be happy” if he’s not in love and with a “long-term companion.”

This is an age-old storyline

This narrative is not a new one: A genius man, destined for greatness, is distracted and thrown off course by an enchanting woman, helpless in the face of her mysterious charms.

There are the sirens luring in sailors in Greek mythology, and Delilah coaxing Samson in the Bible. Yoko Ono was blamed for the breakup of the Beatles. Tony Romo’s bad days on the football field were pinned on Jessica Simpson. Researching, I came across a list titled “Kate Upton and 10 other bad luck sports WAGS” — wives and girlfriends.

And the framing doesn’t just exist in the realm of celebrity and sports. Teen girls at school are often sent home and told to dress conservatively to avoid distracting boys. In a 2017 British study, a quarter of women reported being cautioned about how they look in the workplace, and among those, a third said they were spoken to because they were considered a “distraction” to their male counterparts.

It’s not clear whether Musk and Grimes have broken up or are still together. But for the purposes of Tesla’s future, it’s safe to say it’s silly to pretend it matters.

Or as Thornton McEnery, executive editor at Wall Street humor website Dealbreaker wrote about the coverage: “Let’s just take a moment to bask in the beauty of ‘serious’ investors monitoring the secondary activity on Elon Musk’s social media accounts to diving meaning in his dating life,” he wrote, “and then laying that data onto their perception of Tesla’s future market performance.”

source: vox

The past 72 hours of Trump-Russia news, explained

 
White House Counsel Don McGahn on Capitol Hill on on August 15, 2018.

Paul Manafort, Don McGahn, Michael Cohen, and everything else you might have missed.

This weekend kicked off with a question mark still hanging over the fate of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chair, who’s facing multiple financial crimes charges, including bank fraud, bank fraud conspiracy, and false income tax returns.

That the jury went home on Friday without a verdict ended up being the least intriguing development in the Trump-Russia investigation this weekend.

On Friday evening, special counsel Robert Mueller’s team filed court documents recommending up to a six-month prison sentence for George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign aide who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and had been cooperating with the Mueller investigation.

On Saturday, the New York Times published a report revealing that White House counsel Don McGahn has been closely cooperating with the special counsel investigation of Trump’s possible attempts to obstruct justice.

This sparked a Trump Twitter rant that lasted through the weekend, in which he equated Mueller with the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who investigated US government officials he suspected of being secret communist sympathizers in the 1950s, often with little to no evidence.

Sunday saw Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani use the disturbingly Orwellian phrase “truth isn’t truth” to try to deflect questions about why President Trump won’t sit down for an interview with Mueller. (Giuliani clarified his comments on Monday.)

It also brought the news that Manhattan federal prosecutors might be closer to charging Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney, with nearly $20 million in bank fraud.

That’s a lot of stuff. If, like the Manafort juror, you wanted to go home early on Friday and enjoy a news-free weekend, here’s what you missed.

The jury is still deliberating in the Paul Manafort trial

The jury returned for its third day of deliberations on Monday in the trial of Paul Manafort. Judge T.S. Ellis III met with both government prosecutors and defense lawyers twice on Monday morning and said the contents of the conversations would be released after the trial.

So the waiting game continues. The jury has been deliberating since Thursday morning, sending the judge four questions on day one of deliberations and then asking for an early dismissal on the second day.

Manafort’s defense team has taken the delay as a good sign, but experts told Vox’s Emily Stewart over the weekend that it’s hard to draw any conclusions from the lack of verdict just yet. This is a complicated case involving 18 counts including bank fraud, bank fraud conspiracy, and other financial crimes.

“Probably means nothing,” Shira Scheindlin, a former United States district judge for the Southern District of New York, told Stewart. “Most juries are very meticulous. Bank fraud and tax fraud are complex statutes and involve unfamiliar concepts. They are not in the everyday experience of jurors.”

But another of Mueller’s targets will face sentencing soon

Mueller’s attorneys have recommended that former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos face up to six months in prison for lying to investigators about his contacts with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign.

There are two key revelations from the court documents. The first: Papadopoulos definitely lied, and government prosecutors warned him repeatedly against it.

In the court documents, Mueller’s team described Papadopoulos’s crime as serious and said he “caused damage to the government’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election” by lying to investigators early on when “key decisions” about “who to interview and when, were being made.”

Prosecutors said that Papadopoulos misled investigators about his contacts with professor Joseph Mifsud, who told him that the Russians had “thousands of emails” on Clinton. Papadopoulos eventually spilled this information to an Australian diplomat, who tipped off the FBI. This — and not the Steele dossier, as Trump and his Republican allies claim — is what initiated the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

“The defendant’s false statements were intended to harm the investigation, and did so,” government prosecutors wrote.

The second big revelation is that although Papadopoulos made a deal with Mueller’s team to cooperate in exchange for a reduced sentence, it seems he was reluctant to actually cooperate, and what he did offer wasn’t all that valuable.

According to the court filing:

The defendant did not provide “substantial assistance,” and much of the information provided by the defendant came only after the government confronted him with his own emails, text messages, internet search history, and other information it had obtained via search warrants and subpoenas well after the defendant’s FBI interview as the government continued its investigation.

Mueller’s team also flagged interviews that Papadopoulos and his fiancée gave with the press, which further soured the government on working with Papadopoulos.

Which means Papadopoulos will be now punished for his crimes. His sentence is expected on September 7.

Cue the Nixon analogies: White House counsel Don McGahn doesn’t want to be the next John Dean

The New York Times’s Maggie Haberman and Mike Schmidt reported Saturday that White House counsel Don McGahn has done three voluntary interviews with the special counsel’s office, totaling more than 30 hours and covering topics from Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey to Trump’s attempts to fire Mueller himself. Some of the incidents wouldn’t have been known to investigators without McGahn talking about them openly, according to the Times.

According to the Times, McGahn has been so chatty because he feared Trump was setting him up to take the fall for obstruction of justice charges. McGahn “told people he was determined to avoid the fate of the White House counsel for President Richard M. Nixon, John W. Dean, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice in the Watergate scandal.”

Trump’s original legal team, which included attorneys John Dowd and Ty Cobb, had pursued a strategy of cooperation with Mueller, believing the more forthcoming they were, the sooner the investigation would wrap up. McGahn, however, reportedly thought this was something of a trap and wanted to make clear to prosecutors that he did nothing wrong.

This news is a potentially big deal — but it really all depends on what McGahn told investigators. And there are still a lot of outstanding questions about that. Even Trump’s current legal team doesn’t seem to be all that sure if McGahn’s account hurts or helps the president, as McGahn’s lawyers didn’t fully brief Trump’s legal team.

Dowd, Trump’s former attorney, told CNN that McGahn was a “strong witness for the President’s case.” Giuliani said the same on NBC’s Meet the Press.

Trump, meanwhile, seemed incensed by the story, tweeting about fake news and calling Dean, who flipped on Nixon, a “RAT.”

The bottom line: Mueller and his attorneys know what McGahn told them and how it may or may not play into the obstruction of justice investigation — and they’re absolutely not going to give any hints. Giuliani and Trump’s team can claim that this benefits the president, but they’re also speculating.

Trump probably won’t be sitting down with Mueller anytime soon

Amid the scramble over McGahn’s sit-downs with the special counsel, Giuliani made it quite clear that the president isn’t sitting down for an interview with Mueller’s team anytime soon.

The saga of whether Trump will talk to investigators has been going on for some time — adding up to months of excuses intended to obfuscate and delay.

Which brings us to Giuliani’s latest excuse: If the president sits down with Mueller, Trump will end up perjuring himself because “the truth isn’t the truth.”

Giuliani tried to clarify his remarks Monday, saying that a Trump interview would set up a “‘he said, she said’ puzzle.”

What Giuliani is really getting at here is that what the president says might not align with the testimony of other witnesses Mueller has spoken to in the course of the investigation, and that could put the president at risk of perjuring himself.

Either way, Trump doesn’t appear any closer to sitting down with Mueller for a voluntary interview, which means the likelihood of a legal showdown over a presidential subpoena seems more and more likely.

Michael Cohen may get charged with bank fraud soon. Will he cooperate with prosecutors?

Federal prosecutors for the Southern District of New York are apparently getting closer to filing charges against Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, possibly by the end of this month.

The New York Times reported Sunday that Cohen may be facing bank and tax fraud charges connected to more than $20 million in loans related to his taxi business. Prosecutors are also reportedly investigating whether the hush money payoff he helped orchestrate to porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal during the 2016 election violated any campaign finance laws.

Cohen has been in legal jeopardy for some time, after the feds raided his home, office, and hotel room on April 9. Mueller referred the case to the Southern District of New York.

Right now, prosecutors seem to be homing in on his taxi business — in particular, whether he misrepresented the value of his business assets to two financial institutions, and whether he failed to report money he made from his business to the IRS. (Cohen owned taxi medallions, which are the permits operators need to drive taxis in New York City; they used to be valued at well over $1 million but have nosedived in recent years, mostly from competition from ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft.)

This seems to be all about Cohen’s shady business activities and not his former boss’s activities. But the question now is whether Cohen may plead guilty to these charges and decide to “flip” on Trump — whether about the hush money payments, Trump’s other business transactions, or Trump’s ties to Russia.

Cohen has been signaling for a while that he might be ready to make a deal with prosecutors. His attorney, Lanny Davis, released a secret audio recording from September 2016 of Cohen and Trump discussing a hush money payment to McDougal. Sources also told CNN last month that Cohen was willing to tell Mueller that Trump knew ahead of time about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, during which Russians offered dirt on Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump Jr. and other members of Trump’s team.

The Southern District of New York, in pursuing plea deals, traditionally requires defendants to admit to all crimes they’ve committed, even if they’re unrelated to questions that sparked the initial investigation. If Cohen does reach a plea agreement, he would likely have to talk to Mueller, according to the Times. But it’s not yet clear if Cohen is willing to cooperate — or if he has anything of value for federal prosecutors to make a deal worthwhile.

source: vox